October 2021 Monthly Meeting

When: Wednesday 6th October at 7:30 pm

Where: Owing to the COVID-19 lock down this meeting will be via Zoom only.


Meeting ID: 937 2954 9795
Passcode: 111222

What: Estimating the Gregorian arrival date of Māori to Aotearoa – Ockie Simmonds and Kiyotaka Tanikawa

This meeting will include:

  1. The Night Sky in July
  2. Astronomy News
  3. Main talk to start at around 8:00 pm

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Western historians working from traditional oral genealogies and narratives determined that a ‘Great Fleet’ carrying the Polynesian ancestors of Māori left the Central Eastern Pacific to settle New Zealand in the year AD 1350.

Over the past century this date has become entrenched in New Zealand’s national consciousness. This research focuses on the crew of the ocean-sailing voyagers Tainui and Te Arawa, to determine an estimated arrival date with greater certainty.

By combining the sort of traditional sources used in previous historic studies with archaeo-astronomy, we argue that members of the Te Arawa observed a total solar eclipse over the central volcanic plateau of the North Island. This historic event strongly suggests that the celebrated ‘Great Fleet’ arrived in December 1408, almost sixty years later than previously thought.

Ockie Simmonds was born Henere Tumapuhia, of Raukawa and Ngāpuhi parents. He is a strong advocate of the retention and understanding of Māori astronomy. He worked in telecommunications engineering for 18 years with NZ Civil Aviation; specialising in surveillance and weather radar systems (1cm & 10 cm) both in NZ and the Pacific. Ockie has a broad understanding of astronomy and cosmology. His promotion of the Māori night sky is legendary with his whānau. He is a strong advocate for Matauranga Māori and is passionate about whakapapa and maramataka (Māori traditional calendars). He brings with him over two decades of experience in the area of maramataka.

Kiyotaka Tanikawa is from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.